Bird scooters swoop in unannounced


iO Soucy

A bird scooter sits on an Ann Arbor sidewalk awaiting its next rider.

  Under a blanket of darkness on Thursday, Sept. 6, representatives from the Bird e-scooter sharing company descended upon the streets of Ann Arbor, strategically placing their electric vehicles on sidewalks around the city. The University of Michigan was selected by Bird to be one of the 150 locations for their nationwide University Pop-Up Tour.

  This was not, however, a coordinated effort in conjunction with the city of Ann Arbor or University of Michigan Officials.  

  “We were just as surprised as everyone else,” said city public service specialist Robert Kellar. “We had no idea they were coming.”

  Similarly, U of M Spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald stated, “The Bird scooter company did not seek permission from U of M regarding the company’s deployment of scooters in Ann Arbor. That appears to be the company’s approach: not seeking permission in advance.”

  The surprise arrival of the machines left no opportunity for City Officials to prepare, and previous ordinances prohibit motorized vehicles in city bike lanes and sidewalks — the most common place Bird scooters are used.

  Accessed via mobile app, Bird scooters are available for all citizens 18 and older with a valid driver’s license. Each morning, the scooters are parked along sidewalks in locations with heavy foot traffic.

  There is a $1 start fee and then an additional 15 cents per minute of use. Once riders reach their destination they abandon the vehicles on the sidewalk to be used by the next rider.

  When reached for comment, a Bird Spokesperson touted the company’s, “Unique-to-the-industry commitment to collaboratively work with city officials and community stakeholders.”

  This is something that — even days after the release of scooters in Ann Arbor — the company has yet to act on.

  Bird has since refused to comment or cooperate with the city of Ann Arbor.